A new directive on animal testing was approved today by the European Parliament. According to the press release of the European Parliament the directive aims at reducing the number of animals used for testing (particularly apes), promoting alternative methods, and monitoring repeated suffering. The reaction of international press was generally positive, underlining reassuring concepts such as “EU tightens rules” and “great apes protected” (AFP, BBC News, Reuters), while Italian press is focusing on the disturbing aspects, in particular the possibility to experiment on stray dogs and cats, on endangered species, on animals caught in the wild, a killing protocol involving carbon dioxide, the re-use of the same animal for more experiments (this is how the number of animals involved will be actually reduced), and the authorization to perform invasive procedures on non-anesthetized animals (Il Fatto Quotidiano, Asca, Ansa, Repubblica).
The present Italian legislation on animal testing is actually more advanced in comparison to this new European directive. In particular, the idea of capturing stray dogs and cats to sell them to labs is something we tend to connect with organized crime.
Informing people about animal testing is extremely difficult. Unless you are talking to a sadistic, any explicit information about the condition of animals in testing labs (or intensive farms) will result in a form of aggression of the listener, who will typically counter react aggressively, or retreat in indifference and sometimes derision. As a consequence, most people don’t know and don’t want to know about the actual conditions of animals in testing labs (or intensive farms), for the simple reason that knowing would be too painful, it would add (more) anguish to the everyday life, and will cause a sensation of impotence. This is why debates on this subject are often conducted at a very superficial level, leading to deceptive conclusions. But while people protect themselves in order to be able to sleep at night and be productive at the office the next day, a lot of things happen in the world. For example, a new directive on animal testing is proposed, it’s a fairly good document at the beginning, but then it’s progressively changed into a controversial “compromise”, and after some months it’s approved. That’s today.
In many years of activism I have observed that most people tend to agree to reasonable statements such as:
– valid alternatives to animal testing should be used as often as possible
– the suffering of animals on testing labs should be reduced in any possible way
– farmed animals should be raised and killed without torturing them
What most people fail to notice, is that our society and market are not based on reason but on money and power, and money and power tend to go to an elite, not to the collectivity. To be more explicit, suffering and torturing are not always happening for some inevitable reason (no alternatives), or for some good cause (curing more illnesses, feeding more people). Very often they are happening to allow some individual to get more money and more power. And this is true for suffering and torturing in general, not only as regards animals, as you may have already noticed.